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An increase of syphilis infections on the reservation has health officials worried.

Indian Health Service and Tribal Health officials met with the Tribal Executive Board this past month and presented them with a chart documenting Sexually Transmitted Disease infections from 2020 to 2022.

In fall 2022, the Centers for Disease Control reported that syphilis cases were rising fastest among American Indians and Alaska Natives out of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. 

About 52 out of every 100,000 Indigenous people nationwide were developing new syphilis infections in 2021, according to the CDC. 

A report from Indian Health Service’s Public Health Nurse’s department detailed the infections in a chart over the past few years. 

From January through June 2020, gonorrhea was the most frequently treated sexually transmitted infection (STI) at 72 cases. Chlamydia was the second most frequent, with 67 cases documented.

At this time, syphilis cases were down to two documented cases in six months. 

The next six months reported an increase bringing it to six reported infections.

From January through June 2021, syphilis infections increased to 34 reported infections. At the same time, cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia saw a steady decrease.

July through December 2021 saw a slight decrease in all STIs. 

January through June 2022, syphilis infections jumped to 94 reported cases. 

Officials reported another 45 syphilis cases in three months. 

August to November reported another 34 cases.

November through December 2022 brought in 51 more cases.

December 2022 to January 2023 brought in 45 more infections. 

With so many cases, health officials are actively seeking individuals to get tested at the local IHS. 

According to the CDC, American Indian and African Americans have the highest rates of syphilis infections in the United States. 

Symptoms start with a painless sore on the genitals, rectum or mouth. 

After the sore heals, the second stage is characterized by a rash that looks like spots on the skin.

Then there are no symptoms until the final stage, which could happen years later. The final stage can result in damage to the brain, eyes, nerves, and heart. 

Treatment for this disease is a simple treatment of penicillin for the person and their sexual partners. 

For treatment, visit your local health care provider. 

About Post Author

Louis H. Montclair

A journalist on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Owner of tribaltimesnews.com
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By Louis H. Montclair

A journalist on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Owner of tribaltimesnews.com

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